Not sure where this came from, but it takes place during All or Nothing and references events from Old Wounds, where Kali and Stone first met.
Stonewall watched her face flame as she replied. "I said no such thing."
He shook his head and tapped the side of his head. "Perfect recall, remember? You did."
Kalinda sighed and cast her eyes to the sky; her cheeks were pink and he knew that it was not entirely due to the fact that they were sitting before a campfire on the Outer-Rim world of Japarran. Her dulcimer rested in her lap, forgotten for a moment as they'd started reminiscing. "I don't believe it, Stone. I never said that."
The others were seated around them, listening. "He's right, General," Milo said. "Our memories are perfect. Bred for it." The youngest clone flashed her a grin and she shook her head, though she was smiling as well.
"It doesn't sound like you," Crest added. "I mean, it sounds...well..." He trailed off and looked at the fire. "A little..."
She arched her brow at him, daring him to say it. "What, Crest?" Silence. She sighed and lifted the dulcimer, plucking the strings for a few moments.
Stonewall watched her; he didn't think he would ever get tired of the way that her face transformed with her smile, or the sound of her voice against his ears. From his place across the fire from her, he could see how the light cast her skin in a luminous glow. For the thousandth time he wondered what it would be like to run his hand along the smooth skin of her cheek. Stop, he told himself. Stop it. She's a Jedi Knight and your CO, not some random floozy at a cantina. She deserves the utmost respect at all times and you can't go blowing your new promotion in the second month, okay? Keep your mind on the mission. Nothing else. He dropped his gaze to the fire, listening to the music.
"Maybe you're thinking of some other Jedi, Stone." The words were spoken idly, almost indiscernible through the music, but he heard them anyway.
He shook his head without hesitation. "That's not possible." The words slipped out before he had a chance to check himself and he silently cursed his impropriety.
Beside him, he noticed that Crest's brow lifted, though he said nothing. The others were only listening to the music. After another moment, the bald clone cleared his throat. "So, you met at Basrah? I heard about that skirmish."
Stonewall nodded. "It was...exciting."
Across from him, she laughed. "Exciting. That's one word for it." Her dark eyes met his and he felt warm and strange inside and it had little to do with the flickering fire between them. She paused and shook her head. "You wanted to carry my pack, even though I'm clearly capable of doing that on my own."
At this he felt his skin heating up even more, especially when the other clones looked at him. "Why's that?" Traxis' voice was genuinely curious.
It might not be protocol to discuss her limp. For him there was more to it than her old injury, of course. She had an air about her, something that drew out instincts that he didn't know he had. He wanted to protect her, though he knew that was a silly thing to think about a Jedi Knight. If she could create a shield of mystical energy around them to withstand the cold vacuum of space as well as come through torture at the hands of the notorious Asajj Ventress relatively unscathed, she most certainly did not need his protection. She's more than capable. I don't understand why I feel this way about her.
"You have a very chivalrous captain," she replied. "At least, that was my first impression. I'm not often wrong about these things." Her dark eyes caught his again and she smiled. He returned the look.
Weave cleared his throat. "Then what happened?"
The moment I saw you, I never wanted to look away. The thought struck him like a blaster-bolt for all that he held still. Finally he managed a casual shrug of his shoulders. "Not much. There was a skirmish, if I recall. And that bald witch made an appearance."
The Jedi looked at him, her expression thoughtful. "Now you're being modest. Ventress knocked me out and took me prisoner aboard her ship; your good captain there stowed aboard and came to my rescue...despite the fact that the odds were not in his favor."
"I heard about that part," Weave said. "You used the Force to escape her ship, didn't you, General?" He sounded awed. "It kept you safe in open space, as I recall?"
She nodded and shot Stonewall another look; from across the fire her skin seemed to ripple with the heat. He could still feel her in his arms, as he'd had to carry her to help her conserve her strength for the difficult task of focusing the Force-energy to keep them safe. This memory brought another one to his mind, the image of her shuddering and convulsing, as the cold of space had managed to seep to her skin despite her efforts. General Kenobi rescued us just in time. Her lips had been almost blue; she had been drifting in and out of consciousness as he held her, as they'd been rescued. He could still feel her trembling in his arms as he'd said her name again and again.
Later, the others had drifted into their own conversations and she had risen to step to the woods. "Mind keeping it safe for me?" He looked up to see her standing before him, holding the dulcimer.
"Of course, General." He took the slender instrument and set it carefully in his lap, watching as she slipped into the darkness. Once she'd gone, he examined the polished woodgrain, noting how it was worn but clearly well-cared for. It was as unfamiliar as it was beautiful. He glanced up; the others were engrossed in a heated debate about bolo-ball, so he took a moment to run his fingers across the strings, lightly, so as not to make too much noise. The resulting sound was remarkable.
"Would you like a lesson?"
Startled, he glanced up. She had returned silently and was watching him with a bemused expression. Stonewall shook his head and handed the dulcimer back to her. "I'm afraid I wouldn't get much use out of it," he said. "What's a clone going to do with a musical instrument?"
She took a seat beside him and shrugged as she toyed with the strings. "May as well put that 'perfect recall' to good use."
He laughed. The fire was warm and he could feel her body close to his; he was so aware of her it was unsettling. I could reach my arm around her shoulders. He shook his head at the strange, intimate thought. No. It's too much. I'm a clone and she's a Jedi Knight. We're too different. I shouldn't let these thoughts creep in any more.
He cast her another look; she was toying with the dulcimer again, her eyes on the strings, her lips slightly parted in concentration. I wonder what it would be like to kiss her.
Kalinda Halcyon lifted her eyes to his and something in his throat tightened at her gaze, making him wonder for a moment if he'd somehow broadcast his thoughts to her.
"Stone, did I ever thank you for saving my life?"
The words were unexpected. He blinked once. "Yes, General." He frowned, as she'd asked him not to call her by the title any longer. "Kalinda." It was still strange for him to say her name.
She nodded, her mouth curving into another smile. "Good." They were so close. There was only a breath of space between them, but it may as well have been an entire galaxy.
But still. Her smile widened and he knew that he was lost. For good.